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Publication# Hypergraphic LP Relaxations for Steiner Trees

Abstract

We investigate hypergraphic LP relaxations for the Steiner tree problem, primarily the partition LP relaxation introduced by Koenemann et al. [Math. Programming, 2009]. Specifically, we are interested in proving upper bounds on the integrality gap of this LP, and studying its relation to other linear relaxations. Our results are the following. Structural results: We extend the technique of uncrossing, usually applied to families of sets, to families of partitions. As a consequence we show that any basic feasible solution to the partition LP formulation has sparse support. Although the number of variables could be exponential, the number of positive variables is at most the number of terminals. Relations with other relaxations: We show the equivalence of the partition LP relaxation with other known hypergraphic relaxations. We also show that these hypergraphic relaxations are equivalent to the well studied bidirected cut relaxation, if the instance is quasibipartite. Integrality gap upper bounds: We show an upper bound of sqrt(3) ~ 1.729 on the integrality gap of these hypergraph relaxations in general graphs. In the special case of uniformly quasibipartite instances, we show an improved upper bound of 73/60 ~ 1.216. By our equivalence theorem, the latter result implies an improved upper bound for the bidirected cut relaxation as well.

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In mathematics, the relaxation of a (mixed) integer linear program is the problem that arises by removing the integrality constraint of each variable. For example, in a 0–1 integer program, all constraints are of the form The relaxation of the original integer program instead uses a collection of linear constraints The resulting relaxation is a linear program, hence the name.

An integer programming problem is a mathematical optimization or feasibility program in which some or all of the variables are restricted to be integers. In many settings the term refers to integer linear programming (ILP), in which the objective function and the constraints (other than the integer constraints) are linear. Integer programming is NP-complete. In particular, the special case of 0-1 integer linear programming, in which unknowns are binary, and only the restrictions must be satisfied, is one of Karp's 21 NP-complete problems.

In combinatorial mathematics, the Steiner tree problem, or minimum Steiner tree problem, named after Jakob Steiner, is an umbrella term for a class of problems in combinatorial optimization. While Steiner tree problems may be formulated in a number of settings, they all require an optimal interconnect for a given set of objects and a predefined objective function. One well-known variant, which is often used synonymously with the term Steiner tree problem, is the Steiner tree problem in graphs.

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